H.B. considers law on parent-hosted drinking

A recommendation to draft a social host ordinance drew plenty of support at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting Monday.

The board approved Councilman Joe Carchio's suggestion to have city attorney Jennifer McGrath draft a social host ordinance similar to ones adopted in Laguna Beach and Irvine with a 6-1 vote with Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Harper dissenting.

Carchio asked the council to add Huntington Beach to a list of more than 100 cities in California that have social host laws that impose civil liabilities to adults who host parties where kids are in possession of alcohol.

"We owe it to our kids, the kids in Huntington Beach to at least stand up and say we care about you and we care about what happens to you," Carchio said.

Two Huntington Beach parents and local Parent Teacher Assn. presidents asked the council to bring a social hostlawto their city.

"We do have a teen-alcohol problem and more importantly an adult-allowance problem," Huntington Beach High School PTA President Gina Gleason said. "We look to you now to make a statement of great faith in regards to what we stand for."

Harper was concerned about dedicating exorbitant amount of time to a matter he felt it wasn't the role of the city, but the state to enforce. He maintained a council member's time would be better spent lobbying its state representative.

"We have a limited time here, there are issues whether it's budget or city management, which I think are a far better use of our time," he said. "A different venue is probably more appropriate for this issue."

Carchio said it wouldn't be a drain on the council's time, as it would essentially adopt an ordinance similar to the one Laguna Beach brought in earlier this month.

After plenty of debate, Laguna Beach adopted a social host law on Dec. 4 that penalizes adults who knowingly supply minors with alcohol. First-time offenders are cited and required to enroll in counseling with those failing to do so being fined $1,000. Multiple violations result in misdemeanors, which could lead to jail time and a $1,000 fine according to state law.

While Laguna Beach passed the ordinance on a 3-2 vote, the recommendation was well supported with Mayor Connie Boardman, councilman Joe Shaw offering their support of the matter and Dave Sullivan not offering any resistance.

Newcomers to the council Jill Hardy and Jim Katapodis raised some concerns. Hardy wanted to be assured the law wouldn't penalize families who serve alcohol to their own children for cultural or religious reasons, while Katapodis wondered how it'd be enforced with "so many laws on the books already."

Huntington Beach Police Chief Ken Small said the law would expand the department's enforcement capabilities and the possible threat of it could also change behavior of adults.

"I think it could be enforced," Shaw said. "I don't trust Sacramento to do anything, honestly. It's another way to have another tool. I think it's an excellent deterrent for underage drinking."


Twitter: @TCNShortall

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